This is a followup to a comment exchange and particularly this comment over on ELL.
One user contends that a double negative is always wrong in standard English. This user also maintains that:
First, "un"-prefixed adjectives, etc, or verbs like "disagree", are not negatives in a grammatical sense. Secondly, a double-negative occurs when somebody uses two negative terms but actually means a negative (instead of a positive) result, such as "don't promise nothing", which is logically inconsistent with what was said, and therefore wrong.
I disagree. I maintain that such sentences as:
- He is not unattractive.
- He is not without charm
- He doesn't have nothing but the clothes on his back.
- This gem is not uncommon.
- The price of the car is not insignificant.
- The new disease wasn't non-infectious.
- He wasn't irresponsible about his duties.
- I can't get no satisfaction.
- I don't disagree"
- Mr. Jones wasn't incompetent.
- We can't not go to sleep!
- Nor did they fail to take account of it.
- We don't need no badges!.
contain double negatives, and are mostly acceptable English. Is it correct to limit the term "double negative" to the situation "when somebody uses two negative terms but actually means a negative"? Can anyone supply an authoritative source for the usage of the term? I am already aware of the Wikipedia article but its citations are not wonderful.